Joaquin Phoenix Was Initially Fearful of Taking Joker Role

It may sound like an easy offer but playing the Joker on the big screen is no laughing matter. The commitment is a heavy one with the eyes of millions upon it, but a job well done can lead to all sorts of critical acclaim. This is the sort of hesitancy which affected Joaquin Phoenix before he signed on to play the DC Comics villain, and the star is opening up about those initial doubts at last.

Recently, the actor sat down with Total Film to talk about Joker which comes out later this year. It was there Phoenix admitted it took him longer than he even expected to commit to the project.

"It took me awhile [to commit]," the actor said. "Now, when I look back, I don't understand why."

As noted by Total Film, the Joker is the first comic role which Phoenix chose to take. The star has been offered roles in the past with the Marvel Cinematic Universe which would be a dream for many. Not only was the star asked to play the Hulk in lieu of Edward Norton, but Doctor Strange could have been Phoenix's if he wanted. However, these parts did not fit with his plans, and it turns out fear nearly kept the actor from pursuing the Joker.

“There was a lot of fear, yeah,” Phoenix explained.

“But I always say there’s motivating fear and debilitating fear. There’s the fear where you cannot make a f--king step, and there’s the kind where it’s like, ‘OK, what do we do? That’s not good enough.’ And you’re digging deeper and deeper. I love that kind of fear. It guides us, makes us work harder.”

This fear was stoked by several things, but one which Phoenix touched on specifically had to do with the character of the Joker.

"I think oftentimes, in these movies, we have these simplified, reductive archetypes, and that allows for the audience to be distant from the character, just like we would do in real life," the actor said before adding, "I thought that here was this film, and these characters, where it wouldn’t be easy for you as an audience. There are times where you’re going to feel yourself connected to him, and rooting for him, and times when you should be repulsed by him. And I like that idea of challenging the audience, and challenging myself to explore a character like that. It’s rare to explore characters like that in any movies, but specifically in the superhero genre.”

Clearly, Phoenix is a big fan of how Joker will treat its characters, and it is this attention to detail which helped the actor say yes to the gig. Now, fans will get to see how the gritty feature goes later this year when it debuts this October.

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The Suicide Squad is currently scheduled for release on August 6th, 2021. Other upcoming films featuring DC characters include Joker on October 4th, Birds of Prey on February 7th, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5th, 2020, and The Batman on June 25th, 2021.